School of Computing


Digital Economy "Research in the Wild": Language Learning in the Wild

This project aims to develop the next generation of technology applied to language teaching, namely the use of digital sensors together with a Task-Based Learning approach. Specifically, together with the Digital Institute we will build a digital kitchen that speak to the users in French and give them step-by-step instructions on how to prepare French cuisine.

A number of problems are addressed by this project: the universal problem of classroom language teaching, namely that students are rehearsing the language, rather than actually using the language to carry out actions, and the difficulty of bringing the foreign culture to life in the classroom. With the kitchen, learners will be able to learn aspects of the language whilst performing a meaningful real-world task and will simultaneously experience the cultural aspect of learning to cook a French dish. The project offers the opportunity of taking the excellent research-based pedagogical principles and procedures developed by Task-Based Language Teaching over the years out of the classroom and into use in real-world applications.

In terms of the broader social context, the pedagogical design of the situated language learning system is intended to create a transferable, interdisciplinary model of task-based, situated learning which can be applied to many different technological settings and many different skill and knowledge sets. A significant challenge for the UK is how to employ the available digital technology to upgrade the skills of its workforce in a rapidly changing world. A specific challenge is how to improve the declining foreign language proficiency of the British workforce. The number of pupils gaining a GCSE in a foreign language has decreased significantly, whilst a recent British Academy report discussed concerns that the future of the UK's world-class research base might be threatened by the decline in modern language learning.